We kicked off 2020 shooting videos in our test kitchen, armed with great lighting, quality cameras (and pros to handle them), and our best culinary equipment. Losing access to those amenities when we closed our offices in March was a pretty significant blow to our workflow, and keeping up our video output was definitely the most difficult undertakings to resume from home. With some elbow grease and creativity, though, our culinary team managed to set up cameras in their home kitchens and shoot themselves cooking and demonstrating techniques—all with our video team standing by on Zoom to troubleshoot, direct, and produce.
"Serious Eats At Home" meant that we weren't deprived of Sasha showing us how to make mapo-style white beans or Daniel walking us through his instant ramen fried rice (or his home kitchen, for that matter). Happily, we've had the luxury of interspersing these dispatches with videos shot prior to the pandemic, too: We got schooled in Sichuan cooking by Chinese food expert Fuchsia Dunlop and learned about some pasta crimes we may or may not have been committing. Later down the line, we found peace in a calming montage of food footage when we needed a distraction from a week-long Election Day. Of all the videos we've put out this year, here are the ones our staff loved the most.
"You may think that I'd hate a video that compares me to an auntie who brings mayo-packed orzo salad to a potluck, but no. This video is so great that I can look beyond it. (For the record, I may be an auntie but I'd never put mayo in anything, ever.) Anyway, I love that this video is five minutes of what makes Serious Eats so special: our opinions. There's nothing better than hearing Sasha sound off about wagon wheels or learning that in his single life, he'd ask his dates about their favorite pasta shapes. Better yet, learning that there is a right and wrong answer. (Bucatini = good; pastina, linguine, elbows = bad.) It's obvious from the 71 comments on this post that the video accomplished its goal: It inspired our readers and got them talking and connecting. Sure, things get a little emotionally charged, but that's what a love of pasta does! There are so many beautiful sound bites to this video. Watch it for them all, but I'll leave you with this from Sasha: 'I'd rather eat a bowl of the devil's pubes than angel hair.'" —Ariel Kanter, director of commerce and content marketing
“This is our most quotable video. Among the highlights echoing in my head: ‘The porridge of pasta’; ‘Auntie pulled up with the not-very-good pasta salad’; ‘Dump in that orzo’; and the Seinfeld-esque ‘One-fer on the fork.’” —John Mattia, video editor
"'The fillingest, tastiest, of the easiest, dumbest, smartest recipes I know of,' says Daniel breathlessly, spoon hovering over the round rice mound, ready to wolf it down. This was the first video we did during the work-from-home period. Amid an out-of-control public health crisis, the message was reassuring: you don't need the resources of the glamorous Serious Eats test kitchen for this recipe, you can make it from the confines of your home! And with ordinary things you find at the grocery store—perhaps, already to be found in your emergency stockpile. What the video presents as a 'totally optional' bonus is highly recommended: top it with a loose, open-faced omurice-style omelette." —John Mattia, video editor
"Daniel’s very DIY ramen fried rice video produced in the throes of New York's first lockdown should win the 'Best Effort' category of 2020 food media. It made me feel less alone while I made junk food in my own kitchen, drained of the willpower needed to bake bread or eat clean. Besides providing a solid, easy recipe, Daniel and the video team did their best to provide levity during an absurdly difficult moment in our lives. That was appreciated by me and I am sure by other viewers as well." —Maggie Lee, UX designer
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"When we launched our inaugural Starch Madness back in April '20, we decided to work with some local artists, most of whom were out of work due to restaurant closures, to create a series of theme songs to accompany our bracket competition. The resulting videos went above and beyond our expectations. Whenever I'm having a rough day—and let's be real, that's been most days of late—I like to open the post and play through all the videos." —Niki Achitoff-Gray, editor in chief
"The video for Tim Chin's lamian noodle recipe stands out to me not for being interesting and entertaining, which it is, but for illuminating the process of stretching and twisting the dough and pulling the noodles in a manner that far exceeds what the photos and accompanying text could accomplish on their own." —Paul Cline, president
"This video was actually shot at the very end of 2019 (which honestly seems like it was five years ago) with Tim Chin, one of Serious Eats' newest contributors. He came in from Boston and completely nailed it, showing us how to twirl, slap, and cut homemade lamian noodles. It's science-y without being too dry, mesmerizing, and does what video does best: shows you something that still photos and/or written content just can't fully explain. Plus we all got to try our hand at twirling the dough around off camera, which made for a lot of silliness behind-the-scenes." —Vicky Wasik, visual directorContinue to 5 of 10 below.
"I picked this video for two reasons: The dish is inspired (and delicious), and the fact that Sasha's kitchen is so obviously so tiny. It's been a wild year for recipe developers and making videos, and I'm just amazed and impressed that Sasha and Daniel—as well as Joel, John, and Vicky on the video team—have been able to do what they've done." —Sho Spaeth, editor
"My first official day at Serious Eats was April 1st, the same day this video was published to the website. Since I started during COVID, instead of heading to SE HQ, meeting my work colleagues, and making myself at home at my new desk, I parked myself at my kitchen table and prepared to virtually meet everyone. It was definitely not your typical 'first day at a new job,' but watching this video of Daniel and Sasha exposing pasta crimes while having fun helped ease my anxieties." —Kristina Razon, associate editor
"This video came out around the height of the pandemic, and it really gave us the laugh we all needed. The team got really creative and did such a great job putting the video together, and I especially loved watching Daniel and Sasha have so much fun on camera. Argue with them all you want, but at least they gave reasoning behind the crimes. I’m happy to report that I’m no longer guilty of any of them." —Yasmine Maggio, assistant social media editor
"This video is just so delightful and funny. Sasha and Daniel are obviously enjoying themselves immensely, and it just makes me feel happy to watch. And it's very educational to boot!" —Daniel Dyssegaard Kallick, full stack developer
"I'm not sure anyone has mentioned this but 2020 has been an unusual year? Producing videos during COVID has definitely forced the whole team to think outside the box, and the video that has best embodied this is Daniel's at-home Romesco Sauce. My favorite moment is how he deals with the unintended—the ingredients begin to overtake the mortar and we're faced with either re-doing the video, hiding it with some editing, or just going with it. Thankfully our editor, John, pushed us to go with the latter. There something comforting—at least to me—watching Daniel sort out unexpected cooking problems on-the-fly. It's something I've gone through a lot this year and I'm just glad that far more experienced cooks go through it, too—although Daniel's involved far less cursing at the sky than when I mess up." —Joel Russo, video producer
"I’m a big fan of Cereal Eats. The videos always strike the balance between the sincerity with which we’d treat any review and the irreverence called for by the absurd cereals Jamelle has to try. My favorite of the year is the review of Kellogg’s Apple Jacks Caramel Cereal, which earned a whopping zero spoons. Jamelle’s commentary on autumn, his shawl-collar cardigan game, and Joel’s subtle edits...it’s perfect. I also love seeing the response these get on Twitter!" —Jina Stanfill, social media manager
"My wife and I look forward to every new episode of Jamelle's Cereal Eats series. In a year that has been defined by stress and uncertainty, we have found great comfort in Jamelle’s calming and methodical analysis of cavity-inducing cereals. His reviews are five-minute therapy sessions, with fantastic sweaters." —Sasha Marx, senior culinary editor
"Cereal Eats brings back an old Serious Eats series, and a bit of that old Serious Eats silliness, in 2020 form (meaning, Now With Video!). The thing about Serious Eats in all its history is that we've always been serious about food, but not snobby (well, not too snobby anyway). We take cereal as seriously as anything else. Jamelle Bouie couldn't be a more perfect host of this revival. I get endless pleasure watching such an elite thinker, who's best known for his writings on society, culture, and politics, take a box of grains through just as rigorous of an analysis. I love his low-key humor, his honest appraisals, and his willingness to try even the nastiest sounding flavors. The only question is...which cereal is next?" —Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary directorContinue to 9 of 10 below.
"I, like many of you, spent most of the pandemic baking: cookies, muffins, breads, cakes, you name it. One of my favorite stress-relief activities was to bake and record timelapses through my oddly clear oven door. There is something really soothing about watching baked goods rise and fall. Election week brought a fair amount of stress again, so I spent some time digging into the Serious Eats video archive and asking John to splice together a quick montage of calming shots, with the aim to help bring a small amount of relief and distraction to you. Bookmark this page for all of those times you need to remind yourself to breathe." —Vicky Wasik, visual director
"Fuchsia Dunlop's unbridled enthusiasm for Sichuan food in general, and fish-fragrant eggplant in particular, is absolutely contagious in this video. And it's just one in a series of incredibly informative, engaging videos the Chinese food expert made with our very own Daniel Gritzer to celebrate the fundamentals of Sichuan cooking, including introductions to strange flavor and málà flavor, and how to stock a Sichuan pantry." — Niki Achitoff-Gray